Commission delays proposals on deforestation and sustainable corporate governance
June 9th, 2021
The fate of the proposals on (i) minimising the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with products placed on the EU market and (ii) sustainable corporate governance is now unclear, raising concerns among civil society.

In recent weeks, it has been reported that the Commission will delay the adoption of the two legislative proposals – first until late July due to issues raised by the Regulatory Scrutiny Board, now until after the summer recess. This was confirmed by the indicative College of Commissioners’ agenda for 8 June – 28 July 2021, as neither proposal is listed for discussion.

It has also been reported in the media that the sustainable corporate governance file will now be co-led by Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton.

There has been no official statement from the Commission on either initiative to explain these delays or the change in direction on the sustainable corporate governance initiative.

These initiatives are essential to ensure respect for human rights, promote sustainable development, and protect the environment – founding values of the European Union. They are also crucial to the EU’s efforts to address the global climate and biodiversity crises, and for protecting rights holders and communities around the world from the environmental and social impacts of EU business activities, supply chains, finance and consumption.

The European Parliament has sent a clear political signal to the Commission to develop ambitious and timely proposals on these initiatives. It adopted two landmark resolutions that formally request the Commission to propose strong legislation to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation, and on corporate due diligence and corporate accountability.

The Council has also requested that the Commission expeditiously produce a proposal for demand-side regulatory measures to reduce the EU consumption footprint on land and encourage the consumption of products from deforestation-free supply chains, and to table a proposal for an EU legal framework on sustainable corporate governance.

EU citizens also strongly support the timely adoption of robust EU legislation on these initiatives, demonstrated by the overwhelming response to the respective public consultations.

With respect to the sustainable corporate governance initiative, more than 80% of all respondents expressed support for developing an EU legal framework for due diligence, and over 80% of respondents – NGOs, companies and business associations alike – underlined the benefit of harmonisation of due diligence requirements at EU-level to avoid fragmentation.

The EU’s legislative process should be open, transparent and democratic, and European citizens have a right to know why the Commission has delayed these widely-supported initiatives.

We urge European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, and Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton to ensure ambitious and timely action on these important initiatives.

This letter is co-signed by ClientEarth, Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network (AEFJN), Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International, Clean Clothes Campaign European Coalition (CCC), Conservation International – Europe, Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité (CIDSE), Earthsight, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ), Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Fédération Internationale pour les Droits Humains (FIDH), Fern, Forest Peoples Programme, Friends of the Earth Europe
Global Witness, Mighty Earth, Oxfam, The European Environmental Bureau, and The Wildlife Conservation Society.